(Ed. Note: With high school sports currently on hiatus, please join me in a look back at some of the finest teams our coverage area has produced this century. To help us get through the summer, each week, I’ll present the top 10 teams from a different sport…four honorable mentions, then our “Super Six,” These rankings are put together with help from coaches and others, including a Twitter poll each week at twitter.com/foresports, but the final decision is mine. This week it’s girls’ basketball. Boys’ basketball, our final countdown, is on deck…)

Previous countdowns
Baseball
Softball
Boys’ lacrosse
Girls’ lacrosse
Football
Boys’ soccer
Girls’ soccer
Field hockey
Volleyball
Girls’ hockey
Boys’ hockey

Think of all the great girls’ basketball players and teams over the past 20 years.

The memories of excellence are vivid and plentiful.

Now, try and limit that list of top teams to only 10.

Not easy, is it?

Each of the following squads won a state title.

Some in perfect fashion.

All could make a case for being ranked even higher.

And that simply speaks to how lucky fans of the sport have been.

For what it’s worth, here’s one writer’s stab at the finest squads we’ve seen over the past 20 years:

Honorable mentions (in chronological order)

2003-04 Deering Rams, 19-3, Class A state champion

File photos

The Rams were just 2-3 early in the season, then won their final 17 contests, dethroned mighty McAuley and knocked off Cony to capture the program’s first state championship. Deering, featuring Katie Gagnon, Lucretia Joy, Heather Linnell, Andrea Mailo, Rashema Murphy, Stephanie Ramons and standout 6-foot-3-inch center Megan Urban (who averaged a double-double for the season), had talent, toughness and tenacity and got better every time it took the floor.

After downing Scarborough and Portland to start the season, the Rams let one slip away at McAuley, fell in overtime to visiting Westbrook, then lost at home to Sanford, but with its season at a crossroads, Deering responded like champions and wouldn’t lose again. The Rams closed the regular season on a 13-game surge, winning 11 in a row by an average of 33 points, before closing with a one-point nailbiter victory at Portland and a confidence-boosting double-overtime home win over McAuley. Deering earned the No. 3 seed for the Western A tournament and went out and made history.

In the quarterfinals versus Westbrook, the Rams avenged their regular season setback with a 45-30 victory, as Urban scored 20 points, including the 1,000th of her career. Portland was next and after a slow start, Deering pulled away for a decisive 51-33 triumph, as again Urban stole the show with 22 points and Ramonas added a dozen. Then, to become regional champion, the Rams had to get through four-time Western A (and two-time state champion) McAuley. Deering did so, punching its ticket to the state final for the first time, thanks to a 56-46 victory, as Ramonas scored 24 points and was named regional tournament MVP, Urban added 13 points and Gagnon and Joy hit timely, dagger 3-pointers. The last obstacle was Cony in the state final and Deering wouldn’t be denied, prevailing, 50-41, as Urban scored 19 points (despite being in foul trouble), Ramonas added 14, Joy played shutdown defense and Linnell was huge off the bench. History was made. The Rams were finally atop the girls’ basketball world. Not for the last time.

Coach Mike D’Andrea: “The girls all came together to win the state title. They all decided after we lost our third straight game early in the year that that’s not what they wanted to be about. We won this whole thing with our defense. These kids just really wanted it. I’m happy for them. All year long I still don’t feel like they got the respect they deserved. They probably didn’t always like what they heard in practice 100 percent of the time, but it was always to get them here. I think now they really have a better understanding of what it takes.”

2009-10 Scarborough Red Storm, 22-0, Class A state champion

The group that simply refused to lose. Scarborough, which featured a pair of players, seniors Ellie Morin and Brittany Ross, who went undefeated in three sports that school year, along with eventual Miss Maine Basketball Christy Manning and key contributors Heather Carrier, Jenn Colpitts and Sarah Moody, ran the table, twice beat two-time defending champion Deering in come-from-behind epics, then captured the program’s lone championship in decisive fashion. Jim Seavey quickly turned the program around and turned it into a top contender and one year after a painful semifinal round loss to Biddeford, the Red Storm ended Deering’s reign one year before McAuley would put a four-year stranglehold on the sport.

Scarborough opened with decisive wins over Gorham and Massabesic, then made a powerful statement by rallying for a 52-50 home win over Deering (Manning scored 20 points, including the go-ahead free throws). From there, the Red Storm won their final 15 regular season games by an average of 22 points and were seriously pushed just twice, a 44-39 triumph at Biddeford and a 51-49 home win over Thornton Academy. Scarborough earned the top seed for the Western A tournament and would need to twice hold on for dear life en route to the pinnacle.

In the quarterfinals, the Red Storm put the clamps on South Portland en route to a 40-22 victory, holding the Red Riots scoreless in the first period and to just six points in the second while forcing 33 turnovers (Ross led the way offensively with 13 points, Manning had a dozen and Colpitts added nine, but she broke her wrist in the process). The semifinals versus Biddeford proved much more challenging. With Colpitts sidelined, Scarborough trailed by nine points early, but rallied, then closed the game on a 9-1 run to prevail, 39-29 (behind 11 points from Ross and 10 from Manning). The regional final versus Deering was a grueling affair, but the Red Storm showed the necessary grit, heart and skill to dethrone the Rams. Already playing without Colpitts and with Manning in foul trouble, Scarborough was down seven points in the fourth period, but Moody drained a pair of clutch 3s and Manning’s late layup put the Red Storm ahead to stay as they advanced, 37-34 (Moody had 10 points, Morin eight and Ross, the regional tournament MVP, added six). The state final versus Skowhegan wasn’t as competitive, but was exhilarating nonetheless. The score was 19-3 Scarborough after one period and the Red Storm never looked back, going on to a decisive 52-32 victory. Manning, Morin and Ross all finished with a dozen points, while Moody added nine. An unforgettable, unbeatable team had left no doubt that it had all the ingredients necessary to become a champion.

Coach Jim Seavey: “It’s a great feeling. I’m so happy for this special group of kids. Winning the state championship is the ultimate prize. We never hit the panic button. These kids are competitors and know how to win. They’re part of history now. With this group of seniors, I knew we could do some special things. It took a lot of hard work and dedication on the kids’ part. They believed in each other and in what we were doing. We believed in each other. We’re resilient and put team above everything else.”

2013-14 McAuley Lions, 21-1, Class A state champion

McAuley standouts Allie Clement (left) and Olivia Smith show how well they can count as they let the world know how good it feels to four-peat.

The Lions would get their four-peat, but unlike the two years prior, there was a loss along the way, preventing this particular squad from being ranked higher. Regardless, the final title for the McAuley juggernaut, which featured eventual Gatorade Player of the Year and Miss Maine Basketball award winner Allie Clement, as well as standouts/eventual college players Sarah Clement (who missed the year with a knee injury), Olivia Dalphonse, Victoria Lux, Olivia Smith and Jackie Welch, was quite an accomplishment.

The Lions entered the season on a 48-game win streak and as always, wore the bulls-eye. Despite losing Sarah Clement for the year with a knee injury and having to play much of the season without Smith (also recovering from a knee injury), they ultimately came within a point of perfection. McAuley opened with a 51-36 home victory over Thornton Academy, then, after a decisive win over Massabesic, held off upset-minded Gorham (65-59). After beating Deering and Noble, the Lions rolled over Windham, 74-29, as Clement hit the 1,000-point mark for her career. McAuley then handled Biddeford and stayed perfect all-time in the “Holy War” versus Cheverus (47-39), but on Jan. 7, 2014, in Saco, the Lions’ 56-game win streak came to an edge as host Thornton Academy rallied for a stunning 50-49 victory. McAuley barely held off visiting South Portland (41-36) in its next outing, then returned to its dominant ways, taking its final eight games by an average of 22 points. The Lions locked up the top spot for the Western A playoffs for the third year in a row, then went out and roared to one final title.

In the quarterfinals, McAuley pulled away from rival Deering, winning, 52-30, behind 15 points from Lux, 14 from Clement and 13 from Smith. The Lions then handled Portland in the semifinals, 70-38, as 11 different players scored (Clement led the way with 16 points and Smith added 15). Upset-minded Windham awaited in the regional final, but McAuley rolled to a 50-28 victory, as Clement, the regional tournament MVP, had 23 points and Lux pitched in with 14. The final act was against Oxford Hills in the state game and while the final score was lopsided, there were some very anxious moments early. The Lions got in early foul trouble and trailed, 12-4, but instead of panicking, they responded like champions, thanks to heroic efforts from four reserves:  juniors Mary Furlong and Ayla Tartre, sophomore Margaret Hatch and freshman Ally Tillotson. McAuley took the lead in the second period, went up, 25-20, at the half (thanks to a timely 3 from Clement), then pulled away and cemented its legacy with a 67-41 victory. Lux led the way with 19 points, Clement bowed out with 17 and Welch contributed 11. Nine different girls, including senior reserves Lauren Coulombe, Carolyn Liziewski and Pam Mukiza, found their way on to the score sheet. Talk about a team effort. Talk about a team for the ages. The Lions’ program is no more, but it’s an indelible part of Maine basketball history.

Coach Billy Goodman: “I’m so happy for these girls. You can’t buy this feeling. It’s the best. It was tough this year. (Back in January) we struggled three games in a row, but everything’s turned around since. We’ve played good defense, boxed out and moved the ball around consistently. We went back to basics and it’s paid off. The girls all know their job. They went in and they did their job and then some.”

2014-15 Greely Rangers, 20-2, Class B state champion

Greely featured a post standout in eventual Miss Maine Basketball selection Ashley Storey and a bevy of 3-point shooters as it rolled to its first championship in over a decade. The Rangers only got stronger as the season progressed and capped their run with a scintillating performance in the state final.

Greely stumbled on Opening Night, losing at home to Gray-New Gloucester, then was nearly perfect. The Rangers lost a close one at York midway through the season, but avenged that setback by beating the Wildcats by 35 points in the finale. Greely won 16 times by an average of 22 points, only once prevailing by single digits. The Rangers entered the Western B tournament as the No. 3 seed, but once the postseason began, they left no doubt they were number one.

In the quarterfinals, against always-dangerous Lake Region, Greely relied on its defense to advance, 45-31. Storey led the way with 19 points, while Isabel Porter added 11 points and Haley Felkel had nine. A rematch with Gray-New Gloucester was next and after losing by a dozen to the Patriots in the season opener, the Rangers completely flipped the script, prevailing, 57-34, behind 22 points from Moira Train and 16 from Porter. Cinderella Cape Elizabeth awaited in the regional final, but Greely left no doubt, advancing to the state final with a 53-28 triumph (Storey had a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds and Felkel added 12 points). Presque Isle was expected to challenge the Rangers in the state game and even took an early 5-0 lead, but Greely put on a show in front of a huge crowd, shooting lights-out and outscoring the Wildcats, 27-5, in the second period to spell a commanding 33-10 halftime advantage. It was all a coronation from there, as Greely rolled to a 56-39 triumph behind 14 points from Train, 13 points and 13 rebounds from Storey and 12 points from Porter. Molly Chapin, Maddie Cyr, Lexi Faietta and Sarah Felkel made their presence felt as well and the Rangers were back atop the girls’ basketball world.

Coach Joel Rogers: “The girls knew they could win a championship. I think the girls just took pride and bought in. They just wanted to win. (The coaches) came up with the right schemes, but they’re just good athletes who work hard in practice. As the season progressed, we got better. We were very good defensively last year, but we shot the ball better this year. I think the girls rallied around Ashley. She never talks about her successes, but they knew she wanted this bad. The community liked this team and liked watching them play. That meant a lot.”

The Super Six

6) 2007-08 Deering Rams, 20-2, Class A state champion

The Rams were a veritable all-star team and even though they stumbled twice early in the regular season, their overall brilliance lands them high on this countdown. Deering, which boasted such luminaries as Kayla Burchill, Nicole Garland, Diana Manduca, Claire Ramonas and Jess Ruhlin, left no doubt it was the best team in the state and set the stage for another title to come.

The Rams won their first six games, including close calls at Gorham and at home versus Marshwood. Deering then lost at Westbrook and at home to South Portland before winning its final 10 regular season contests by an average margin of 22 points. The Rams avenged their loss to the Red Riots with a two-point victory, their only close game in that span. Deering earned the top seed for the Western A tournament and left the field in its wake.

In the quarterfinals, the Rams defeated Massabesic, 64-45, behind surprise hero Porscha Lewis (17 points), as well as expected standouts Manduca (11 points), Ramonas (11 points) and Garland (10 points). Deering then ousted Westbrook, 41-20, in the semifinals, completely stymieing the Blue Blazes’ offense while getting a dozen points from Manduca. In the regional final, the Rams ousted Noble, 53-39, behind 15 points from Manduca, who was named the regional tournament’s MVP, and 16 points from the sharp-shooting Garland. After a 48-hour delay due to bad weather, Deering took on Oxford Hills in the state final and capped its championship run with a 55-43 victory. A rare four-point play by Manduca produced a 20-8 lead after one quarter and the Rams didn’t look back. Burchill led the Rams with 14 points, while Garland bowed out with 11 points and Manduca produced 11 points as well. A mini-dynasty had begun and there was no doubt that Deering was supreme.

Coach Mike D’Andrea: “It’s nice to come through and meet expectations and achieve a goal. That team was polished and deep. I thought we answered every run that came our way. We were young, but we’re also experienced. We have an older crew out there at any given time, but I think our depth really stood out. Being deep in the playoffs, when you get into foul trouble and when the nerves kick in for one individual or another, you can go to the bench and have somebody who’s ready to play.”

5) 2018-19 Greely Rangers, 22-0, Class A state champion

The best team in Greely history, led by an all-time superstar player, enjoyed a perfect season and a dominant run to the championship. Not only did Anna DeWolfe, the eventual Miss Maine Basketball winner, put on a dazzling performance from start to finish, she got plenty of help from sharpshooters Camille Clement and Brooke Obar (who was sidelined part of the year with injury), and a gritty effort from unheralded Katie Fizpatrick, Julia Martel, Mollie Obar, Madison Scott and Madison Storey as the Rangers, who got the most votes in our Twitter poll, went back-to-back.

Greely made an early statement with a 66-50 victory over Class AA contender South Portland. The Rangers also survived a scare at Gorham (57-51), held off eventual Class AA champion Oxford Hills (69-67) and twice defeated Gray-New Gloucester in close games (53-45 on the road and 53-48) at home. They won every other contest by double-digits and in going 18-0, beat the opposition by an average of 28 points. Greely earned the top seed for the Class A South tournament and was never seriously pushed en route to the championship.

In the quarterfinals, the Rangers built a 34-8 halftime lead and rolled to a 66-28 victory over Fryeburg Academy, as DeWolfe led the way with 23 points and Clement added a dozen. Greely then ousted Kennebunk, 67-52, in the semifinals, as DeWolfe stuffed the stat sheet (21 points, 10 assists and seven steals), Obar and Clement had 12 points apiece and Martel contributed 11. Against Brunswick in the regional final, the Rangers shot to a 15-1 lead and never looked back en route to a 54-33 triumph. DeWolfe, who won the regional tournament MVP, went off for 32 points (nearly matching the Dragons’ total). For the second year in a row, Hampben Academy stood between Greely and a title and for the second consecutive season, the Rangers handled the Broncos in the state game, this time, 54-42, as DeWolfe, who shook off an early ankle twist, bowed out with 28 points and Clement added 14. It was a perfect ending for a transcendent player and a phenomenal team.

Coach Todd Flaherty: “I think the girls bought into playing defense and that kept us in a lot of games. We fought hard on defense and the girls played together. They just want to win. We’re a spurty team. We run off points, then we don’t, then we run them off again Anna’s one of the players in Maine girls’ basketball history who changed the game. Our girls want to play like her, fast and full of skill. It’s a great legacy she left us with.”

4) 2008-09 Deering Rams, 22-0, Class A state champion

The Rams had bid adieu to standout Nicole Garland and Mike D’Andrea had stepped down as coach, but Mike Murphy inherited a championship-ready squad. Deering, led by Diana Manduca, Kayla Burchill, Claire Ramonas and Jess Ruhlin, with Maria Apon, Jordan Cuddy, Casey Everest, Britni Mikulanecz and Maria Salamone also playing key complementary roles, returned to the pinnacle in perfect fashion, capping a two-year run of transcendence.

A 46-26 home win over Sanford set the tone in an 18-0 regular season. The Rams didn’t win a single game by single-digits, with a 53-43 victory at Scarborough serving as their closest contest. Deering beat its 18 foes by more than 27 points per game, earned the top seed in Western A, then proceeded to march to a repeat championship with minimal opposition.

In the quarterfinals versus Stevens Avenue rival McAuley, Burchill went off for 20 points, nearly half her team’s total, in the Rams’ 42-27 victory. Deering then more than doubled up Noble in the semifinals, winning, 53-26, behind Manduca’s 13 points and Ramonas’ strong play at both ends. In the regional final versus Biddeford, the Rams rolled, 56-33, as Manduca, the regional tournament MVP, scored 18 points and Ramonas added 14. Deering wasn’t seriously pushed in the state game either, as it pulled away in the second half to defeat Messalonskee, 49-34. The Rams made just 1 of 16 shots and were down, 7-3, after one period, but clung to a 13-12 halftime advantage before coming to life in the second half. By the end of three, Deering was up, 33-22, and the fourth period was a coronation for the Rams, who were paced one final time by Manduca (14 points). Burchill (13 points) and Ramonas (10 points) had big offensive games as well. Deering had golden opportunities to keep their championship run alive the next two years, but dropped agonizing decisions in the regional final round.  As a result, these Rams will long live in school lore.

Coach Mike Murphy: “I had one year with them, I wish I could have three more. Great kids, great leaders. I wanted them to have fun. They had great leadership. They stepped up for each other. Everyone knew the pressure was on us. The kids are almost prisoners of their own success, with the expectations, but we talked about it at the beginning of the year. We stressed needing to play one game at a time. You can’t win 18 games in one night, I told them. We broke it down to simple terms and just played.”

3) 2001-02 McAuley Lions, 23-0, Class A state champion

The first of six McAuley championship teams finished with a perfect mark and won a memorable state final, after falling in that round two years running. The Lions, featuring stars Sarah Marshall, Tricia Freeman and Justine Pouravelis, along with key contributors Regina Champagne, Kara Ebrahim, Danielle Gagnon, Vanessa Lux and Gaby Stone, entered the year thinking title-or-bust and despite some anxious moments, found their way to the mountain-top, thrilling a legion of followers in the process.

McAuley set a dominant tone with an 83-44 win over Portland in the opener, as Marshall scored 19 points and Freeman added 18. The Lions rolled over just about everyone, winning 17 of 18 games by double-digits and most by 30-, 40-plus points, but when tested, they rose to the occasion. McAuley was pushed by Edward Little in a regional final rematch, but prevailed, 57-50, as Stone was the difference-maker (21 points, 10 rebounds, five blocked shots). Rival Deering gave the Lions a midseason test, but McAuley went on to a 46-34 victory behind 13 points from Pouravelis and a dozen from Marshall. The Lions closed the regular season with a 75-49 win over Deering (Marshall stole the show with 30 points) and took a perfect record and the top seed into the Western A tournament, where they marched to glory.

The Maine Principals’ Association held an open tournament in 2001-02, meaning every school qualified, and as a result, McAuley had to play an extra game, but had no trouble dispatching Portland, 62-41, in the Divisional round (Marshall had 15 points and eclipsed the 1,000 plateau for her career). Kennebunk was up next in the quarterfinals and the Lions rolled in that one too, 66-37, behind Marshall’s 23-point effort. In the regional semifinals against Sanford, McAuley broke open a close game in the second half and went on to a 74-45 triumph, as Pouravelis had 25 points and Marshall produced a double-double of 13 points and 10 assists. For the second year in a row, Edward Little awaited in the regional final and for the second straight season, the Lions defeated the Red Eddies, this time by a 58-50 margin, as Marshall, the regional tournament MVP, had 25 points and Pouravelis added 10. A third straight trip to the state final then proved to be the charm, but frequent finalist Cony didn’t make life easy. McAuley was staring at a painful case of deja vu, down, 42-33, late in the third period, but the Lions went on a 12-0 run to take a lead to the fourth period. There, the teams went back and forth in thrilling fashion, in front of a capacity crowd at the Cumberland County Civic Center before finally, with 80 seconds to play, Freeman scored on a rebound to give McAuley the lead for good and the Lions went on to a 67-61 victory. Marshall led the way with 22 points, Freeman and Pouravelis each added 16 and Lux wound up with 10. McAuley Mania was all the rage and there would be more hardware to come.

Coach Liz Rickett: “When you get to the final and we’ve been there, you’re going to put pressure on yourself, but you don’t feel any outside pressure. We had another year of experience, which was the main thing, I sometimes had to calm them down before games, but they’re definitely focused on what they want to accomplish. When the kids feel the pressure, they seem to respond well. They got focused defensively and they were determined to get to the next level. We were a team. Sarah runs the offense and has the scoring numbers, but if you stop Sarah, someone else is going to step up each night.”

2) 2012-13 McAuley Lions, 22-0, Class A state champion

The third of four consecutive title winners was never seriously tested en route to the Gold Ball. While the Lions were without graduated Miss Maine Basketball winner Alexa Coulombe and defensive standout Sadie DiPerro, they still featured Allie Clement, Sarah Clement, Olivia Dalphonse, Victoria Lux, Molly Mack, Olivia Smith and Jackie Welch as they steamrolled their way to the championship.

McAuley was so dominant it eclipsed 70 points in half of its victories and held three opponents to under 20 points, including Noble in the opener (77-12), Biddeford (60-19, in a game that was 37-2 at halftime) and South Portland in the finale (53-11). The Lions won their 18 regular season contests by an average of 36 points and were only pushed once, by rival Deering, a 43-35 victory. in which floor condensation forced a delay. McAuley entered the Western A tournament as the heavy favorite and didn’t disappoint.

In the quarterfinals, the Lions eliminated Gorham, 46-31, as Allie Clement and Welch each had 12 points and Sarah Clement added 10 in her first tournament game. McAuley got a scare from Scarborough in the semifinals before advancing, 47-38, behind Welch’s 10 points and Smith’s near double-double (10 points, nine rebounds). Rival Cheverus awaited in the regional final, but the Lions, who had never lost to the Stags, weren’t about to do so with so much at stake and they went on to a 47-36 victory, thanks to 15 points from Allie Clement, the regional tournament’s MVP, a dozen points from Lux and eight from Welch. The state final versus Bangor served as an expected coronation, as McAuley prevailed, 60-45. The Lions fell behind in a tournament game for the first time in eight outings, but soon seized control and went on to victory, thanks to double-doubles from Smith (20 points and 10 rebounds) and Lux (11 points, 19 boards), 13 points from Allie Clement and nine points from Sarah Clement. McAuley, circa 2012-13, was an absolute juggernaut, but it didn’t boast two eventual Miss Maine Basketball winners. That honor was reserved for the Lions’ immediate, perfect predecessor.

Coach Billy Goodman: “It means everything. You can’t buy this feeling. It’s the best feeling and it just gets better. The girls had to earn it. People know your weaknesses and you still have to produce under pressure. (The girls) were focused on what we were doing, They didn’t get caught up in streaks or records. They just tried to get better and do what the coaches were asking. It was hard work.”

1) 2011-12 McAuley Lions, 22-0, Class A state champion

Forecaster Country has featured numerous championship teams over the past 20 years, including six alone at Catherine McAuley High School, but only one, the 2011-12 Lions, boasted a pair of players who would go on to earn the state’s most prestigious honor, the Miss Maine Basketball Award. Senior Alexa Coulombe was on her way to the award that winter and sophomore Allie Clement would follow two years later. If that alone was McAuley’s claim to the top spot, it would resonate, but the Lions also enjoyed the services of defensive standout/tremendous team leader/captain Sadie DiPierro, as well as Molly Mack, Olivia Smith, Jackie Welch and freshman Victoria Lux as they rolled to a perfect record, rarely getting seriously tested en route to a Gold Ball in Billy Goodman’s first year as coach.

The year before, McAuley had won its first championship in eight seasons, but that squad lost twice, nearly fell on a couple other occasions and barely survived Deering in an epic regional final. This version was nowhere near as mortal. The Lions’ defense was smothering, holding nearly half of their regular season foes under 30 points. Offensively, McAuley got it done inside and out. The Lions won their first six games by an average of 36 points, then passed a couple tests, winning at Windham (41-32) and at Deering (30-25, in overtime, after a late Clement 3 saved the day). McAuley then held off Thornton Academy (41-36) and Scarborough (49-37) before closing on a 7-0 tear, winning by an average of nearly 25 points. The Lions earned the top seed for the Western A playoffs and wouldn’t be denied in a repeat title run.

In the quarterfinals, McAuley ousted Westbrook, 41-23, as Clement scored 17 points. Windham and its star, Meghan Gribbin, the SMAA Player of the Year, was up next in the semifinal round, but Coulombe shut Gribbin down, holding her to eight points, and the Lions prevailed, 49-33, behind Coulombe’s double-double (20 points, 10 rebounds), 14 points from Smith and four points and 10 rebounds from the unheralded Mack. In the regional final versus Scarborough, McAuley never trailed, went up by a comfortable 16 points at halftime, then cruised to a 61-43 victory behind 19 points from Clement, 15 from Smith and eight points and seven assists from Coulombe, the regional tournament MVP. The Lions had their closest tournament game in the state final, as Cony was within two points in the third period, but McAuley gradually pulled away and earned its coronation, 54-41. Smith led the way with 15 points, Clement added 11 points and Lux finished with 10. The Lions never trailed during the tournament and a veritable all-star team secured its legacy. McAuley basketball might be gone, but its impact and excellence was undeniable.

Coach Billy Goodman: “This is the best feeling in the world. I can’t tell you how happy I am. To be a part of this, I just can’t describe it. (The girls’) style and (the coaches’) style collided a little bit, but we found a happy medium and it clicked. We knew we had good players, but we needed to become a great team. All the girls did their job. I have faith in all of them. It comes down to mental toughness and that’s what these kids have. Their mental toughness and execution was amazing.”

Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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